Monday, July 14

Resting Place

THE BOOK WAS saved from a shelf in a shop just off Halstead high street, (at the top, before the road falls down a hill into the village); a barely-minded store, the owner a distressed lady with her glasses halfway down and her eyes at the door. The book – ‘How To Write A Pop Song’ – is bought by a father who, finding himself with ten minutes to spare, is searching for a small gift for his son. He had been dismissed by his wife as she popped to the pharmacy, and, determined, is out to surprise his eldest with those most thoughtful of actions: the small gesture. A gift. He spies. He lifts it down and inspects it briefly, reading a passage here & there, and deciding that it is a good gift and that his young son will like it, just as he liked the guitar his father bought him two years prior.
When the son is moving out and, wrought with that most flustering of nostalgic sadnesses, is deciding what to take with him to university he contemplates that book. It is hardly used and eight years old. Accountancy. A music student one night when all are drunk spies it and asks some questions about it that the son does not know the answer to. In a flash of frivolousness, he hands the book over without thought or monetary exchange. The next morning he forgets his action and the book is with someone else now and he never remembers to ask for it back. He does not think of the book again until years later when he is daydreaming in his winter living room and the sky is dark.
The student arrived back to his flat with a drunken awkwardness that stumbled inaccurately toward its bedly destination and, taking off his shoes, he put the book on the coffee table where it stayed for a long while, the base to many drinks, ashtrays and remote controls. He opened it occasionally when his guitar was in hand and it illustrated, over a number of examples and melodic notations, how well Dm7 went with Gm7 and the student agreed and played them together to his heart’s content. Before going back to Lincoln after graduating, he took the book to a local charity shop and, among many textbooks and fingered autobiographies, the book was housed there for some more years that I cannot describe to you.
Narrowly the book avoided being recycled one spring in a clear-out that was instructed from head office.
Once again it was rescued, if you will, from the charity shop by a girl who was searching for presents for her girlfriend. She had just lost her job and was keeping her purchases as cheap as she could; however she had already found a number of rare twelve inches and a coffee cup with a cat on it within the same charity shop. ‘Very reasonable,’ she thought and paid for all the items. The presents, including the book, were wrapped skillfully and tied with a knitted scarf of green and red wool. Her girlfriend’s birthday was in November. The gifts were gratefully received and the two of them found the photographs, type and smell of the book most charming. The girlfriend read the book, bit by bit, from her bed and smelled it often, as though it were the very odour of her love. During an argument that would ultimately tear the couple asunder, the book was hurled with a quickly regretted force at her lover’s head. The book was fortunately undamaged but the head quickly grew a lump and the love was ended in the slow smoke of love’s ending but the book was taken outside and left in the road as one last disregard of the relationship.
On his way to work, our final subject is listening to music when he sees the book propped askew against a house’s brick wall. It is early and the sun is not yet completely risen but our subject is very nervous and self-aware so before he bends down he checks to see if anyone is around. The cover is dusted off and he quickly slips it into his bag, carrying on his way. That evening, tired and stuck with sweat, he recalls the book and pulls it out. On his silent bed he reads a couple of the opening chapter and stops to use the toilet. He takes it with him and leaves the book in the toilet, resting against the bottom of the bathtub. He flicks through it every time he sits down on the pan. One day he discovers that at the front of the book is a note—‘Dear David, I cannot wait to buy your first single. All my love, Dad.’ The note draws up some sorrow from his vivid imagination. He goes back to his bedroom, plugs his guitar in and tries a few things. All the words and the tunes that spring up into his head are hurriedly scribbled down in a notebook.
Right now that book is rested against the bottom of a bathtub, next to a toilet. I cannot yet tell you what will happen to it next.

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